Colonisation of epiphytic ferns by skinks and geckos in the high canopy of a Bornean rainforest

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Donald, J. ; Clegg, J. ; Ellwood, M. D. F. (2017)

Nest site availability limits the fitness and survival of skinks and geckos, particularly in the canopy of tall tropical rainforests. We document the systematic colonisation and nest use of epiphytic bird’s nest ferns (Asplenium spp) by the gecko Hemiphyllodactylus typus and the skink Lipinia cf. vittigera. As part of a controlled experiment we placed 32 ferns of similar sizes in the high canopy of a lowland dipterocarp rainforest in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo. Half of these ferns, sampled after six months, contained eggs. The remaining ferns, sampled after 12 months, contained both eggs and adults. Our results demonstrate the importance of epiphytes in providing a resource for reptile populations in the rainforest canopy.
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